Shelter from the storm?

Saturday, April 25th

This is the time to be slow, Lie low to the wall Until the bitter weather passes. Try, as best you can, not to let The wire brush of doubt Scrape from your heart All sense of yourself And your hesitant light. If you remain generous, Time will come good; And you will find your feet Again on fresh pastures of promise, Where the air will be kind And blushed with beginning.”

John O'Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

I have always enjoyed John O’Donohue’s poetry and blessings in a Celtic style.

This poem was chosen recently by Fergal Keane, the journalist, in the Today programme on Radio 4. It does create a sense of calm and assurance in a time of strong emotions and concerns.

But in this poem I do balk at the concept of hiding behind the low wall. Not because bending is harder than it used to be, or a fear that I would not be able to get up again without a helping hand! Rather, I suggest there is a need to face up to what life throws at us, however hard, and grow through it.

I remember from my student days in the 60s reading a small book by JB Phillips entitled “Your God is too small.” I particularly remember his criticism of a hymn which contained the line: “hide me, O my Saviour hide, ‘til the storm of life is past.”

Resilience is a word I value as indicating a quality we all need to deal with life issues. We certainly need a generous helping of that at the moment, especially as many of our care and key workers are having to face up to some mighty storms all around them. There must also be a huge gale blowing for those locked down in small spaces with young children or needy parents who have to be teacher or carer; or trapped in a loneliness not of our choosing.

Jesus knew Peter was going to face some uncomfortable challenges after he was arrested. Yet Jesus assured him he would come through his own trial because Jesus was praying for him. Well, Peter failed to overcome his fear when challenged and denied his friendship with Jesus. What he learned from his experience, however, was to recognise his own limitations and then accept the new challenge, given to him by the risen Christ, to lead His people. In this new opportunity Peter proved to be both resilient and courageous.


Mother, Father God,

May your Spirit move alongside us to strengthen and assure us as we face this difficult time.

Grant continuing resilience and courage to those at the centre of the storm in our hospitals, care homes and domestic situations.

Bring peace to those wrestling with the storms within themselves.

Place our feet again on fresh pastures of promise,

Where the air will be kind and blushed with beginning.


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